This is one of the best-written books on early space history one can read. The writer uses wit, sarcasm, and the truth to present a pretty factual tale of the people who have “the right stuff”. However, it’s important to read the book with a little Skepticism. Mr. Wolfe was not beyond bending a yawn just a bit for literary purposes. This is easily illustrated by his handling of the Gus Grissom Mercury flight and the exploding door controversy. And, to be fair, I don’t think a strict account was the writer’s purpose.
A careful reader should have little trouble looking through the opening provided by Mr. Wolfe at the obvious hypocrisy of that time, and then at the only real sympathetic person in the book, Chuck Yeager. For, it is Mr Yeager who had, and always possessed the “right stuff”; true character and courage in the face of adversity. Indeed according to Wolfe, Yeager took part in the “flying and drinking and driving and drinking” philosophy of the test pilots, but the reader gets the sense that with Yeager there was a bit of restraint. The real issue is that he, Yeager, would be overlooked for the astronaut training program because he did not have the “stuff” according to NASA. This occurred despite the fact that everyone in any area of military flying knew Yeager was the best. He had more than enough of the “right stuff”.
The Right Stuff
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So, when one reads the book in that manner it becomes a joy. Read it slowly so you are able to soak in the subtle snubs and all the little kicks aimed at NASA, the government, the media, and what would soon be called the establishment. A wonderful example is the then Vice President Johnson’s outrage when Mrs. Glenn…